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In the Philippines, the restrictive abortion law has not stopped women from inducing abortions but forced women to induce abortion through unsafe means. These women are at risk of dying when they do the following: 1) rely on persons lacking the necessary skills in an environment not conforming to minimal medical standards, 2) using tablets without access to proper information or trained health providers, 3) inserting foreign objects into their uteruses.
Around 610,000 Filipino women were estimated to have induced abortions in 2012 – with at least three women dying each day and 100,000 others hospitalised due to complications.This public health issue should urgently be addressed, especially now with the impact of Covid-19, which has resulted in higher rates of unintended and unwanted pregnancies due to lack of access to contraceptives and higher incidences of rape, intimate partner violence, and sexual exploitation.
Filipino women who have abortions are representative of a majority of Filipino women – poor, Roman Catholic, married, with at least three children, have at least a high school education and identify various, overlapping reasons for inducing abortion. Poor women comprise two-thirds of those who induce abortion, using riskier abortion methods, thus disproportionately experiencing severe complications, clearly making abortion a social justice issue. Meanwhile, one out of eight women cites rape as their reason for inducing abortion. The harmful stigma women suffer from the restrictive law and the oppressive religious beliefs imposed on them will continue to place women’s lives and health at risk.
The restrictive, colonial, and antiquated 1930 Revised Penal Code on abortion has never reduced the number of women inducing abortion. We believe it is high time the Philippine government decriminalises this antiquated and restrictive law, in compliance with its international human rights obligations and women’s right to life, health, equality, equal protection under the law, privacy and bodily autonomy, and against torture.
If you haven’t already, please sign this petition and join women’s rights organizations, reproductive health advocates and youth advocates to “Save Women’s Lives: Decriminalize Abortion Now!”
SOURCE: Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Manila, E-mail, 29 October 2020